This year’s PMI Pulse of the Profession Report is titled: ‘Ahead of the Curve: Forging a Future-Focused Culture’.
Two things stand out for me.
First is that ‘Ahead of the Curve’ follows the new format that PMI established last year. 2019’s Pulse of the Profession, ‘The Future of Work’ broke with the pattern of earlier years.
The Future of Work was a short report putting forward a clear thesis. It interpreted PMI’s findings and made a strong case for the future of Project Management. PMI took the pulse of the profession and made a compelling diagnosis.
This year’s Pulse of the Profession is also a short (8 page) interpretation. It also makes its case for how PMI sees the future of our profession based on the new findings. But that brings me to the second and more important thing that stands out for me…
This is not like last year’s report in a different respect. That made a compelling case that was provocative, interesting, and largely moved the debate forwards.
This year, what we have is dull, clichéd, and follows arguments many of us have been making for 20 years. This year’s Pulse of the Profession is a massive disappointment. It shows a doctor diagnosing what the patient already knows.
Ahead of the curve gives us three things:
PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2020 report is available for free download on the PMI website.
As always, I shall avoid quoting all of the interesting statistics in this report – that would be unfair to PMI, who sends a lot of time and money gathering the data: read the report for all of them.
There are more than last year, I think, but certainly fewer than in previous years.
You’ll find the:
The data PMI offers suggest that they are right to list the importance agility ahead of their other conclusions. It is the top factor that organizational leaders attribute as causal to future success (35 percent) and the second-highest priority in terms of organizational culture (53 percent) after delivering customer value (70 percent).
First I want to explain my allegation that this document is full of clichés. Here are some examples:
And look at the cover photo. If that’s not a clichéd stock image…
Come on, PMI, you have the resources and talent to do better.
The four arguments that Ahead of the Curve makes are all sound. My argument is with the lack of meat to them. They don’t advance the debate, because we’ve heard them all before, many times. There is no new take, nor critical analysis.
In my own interpretation, here are the four arguments PMI makes:
* PMI follows the opening summary paragraph of this second section with the best quote of the report:
A great value proposition for project management is to find ways to reduce pain points within the organization and for customers’Matthew Klein Jr, PMP
Farasis Energy, Half Moon Bay, California, USA
Quoted in the PMI Pulse of the Profession 2020 report: ‘Ahead of the Curve: Forging a Future-Focused Culture’
PMI says that their ‘2020 Pulse of the Profession report shows that leading organizations are adopting three tenets’. Whilst I’d agree that these tenets are important…
And I’d also expect that many organizations are increasingly adopting them…
I don’t find compelling evidence in this report. That is not to say the evidence is lacking in the base data PMI collected. But, as last year, the effort to create a short Executive Summary report has led PMI to play fast and loose with the links between its conclusions and the evidence.
However, here are PMI’s three conclusions, headed by their most egregious cliché: ‘The Future Starts Now’ (who was the copywriter for this report?)
The text of my 1 February Newsletter.
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Last week I wrote about the changes to the PMI’s Project Management Professional examination, coming in July this year.
The most significant change is the equal footing that Agile and hybrid project management will have, alongside the traditional, predictive approach.
That’s a huge change. What use will engineering and construction project managers have for those methods?
And more interesting to me.
Currently, the exam follows five domains mapped to the current PMBOK Guide’s five processes. From 1 July, it will follow closely the PMI’s Talent Triangle:
Ignoring ‘Business Environment’ for a moment (as PMI seems almost to be doing), the message is clear. People skills are (almost) as important, in this exam, as technical, process skills.
I’d interpret this as saying:
‘Project Leadership skills are as important as Project Management Skills’
In 2012 I was approached by Pearson Education…
They are the global publisher behind the many textbooks and trade paperbacks. A related division now runs all PMI’s exam centers.
They have a hugely popular business book series called the ‘Brilliant’ series. And they asked me to write a follow-up to one of their best-sellers, ‘Brilliant Project Management‘.
I wrote ‘Brilliant Project Leader’. It puts leadership skills into a familiar Project Management framework.
Any project manager who is not leading, is not doing their whole job, in my view. That’s always been the case.
But what’s new… and welcome… is that PMI seems to be recognizing that fact. I hope the new focus on soft skills and leadership will last.
Maybe the next big rebrand of the PMI will see it renamed the PLI: the ‘Project Leadership Institute’.
There is nothing to disagree with here. It’s a sound set of conclusions.
But this report is a massive missed opportunity. There is woefully little data and the conclusions it draws have a familiar same-old, same-old ring to them. When I said (disparagingly) above that they are conclusions ‘any group of Project Managers could have come up with, taking ten minutes chatting in a bar’, was I being fair?
I think I was.
I don’t want to upset PMI. But I stand by that remark.
I look forward to your annual Pulse of the Profession report. But this one is a huge disappointment.
In the words of my Latin teacher, one year:
‘Has the talent, but seems determined not to apply it.’
I may have missed something here. So, tell me what you think of ‘Ahead of the Curve’, the PMI’s 2020 Pulse of the Profession Report. I’d love for someone to spot something I missed.
Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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